By Danielle,

Kerry Charles Ratana and Differential Association Theory

5/26/2012 DK 0 Comments

Kerry Charles Ratana
Kerry Charles Ratana

In July 2011, in the High Court in Napier, New Zealand, Kerry Charles Ratana, a 25-year-old man, pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of his former girlfriend's daughter, Sahara Jayde Baker-Koro. On the night of December 20, 2010, Ratana was looking after the then-5-year-old Sahara and her two siblings when he pushed on Sahara's chest, causing her death. Chantally Baker, the mother of the children, who was working an evening shift, claimed that she returned home to Ratana's confession that he had raped Sahara, which he later denied doing. During the first police interview on December 21, 2010, Ratana insisted that it was an accident and that he was just trying to stop her from 'playing up'.
Sahara Jayde Baker-Koro
On March 15, 2012, despite his denial, with evidence of Sahara's 'internal genital injuries' Ratana was found guilty of sexually violating Sahara.

Ratana and Baker were from the suburbs of Wanganui which are said to have 'their social ills and a history of gang problems.' According to Ratana's childhood friend, he was not very bright at school and was pressured to join a gang. Whether Ratana belonged to a gang is unknown but he had been seen hanging around with a 'bad crowd' and wearing the colours of the Mongrel Mob gang. The friend mentioned that Ratana's deviant behaviour was expected by many of his school friends.
After appearing at the Wanganui District Court in September 2010 for disorderly behaviour likely to cause violence, Ratana was convinced to move Napier with Baker for a better life away from his crowd in Wanganui.
(References below)

Differential Association

Differential Association theory claims that criminal behaviour, along with motives, attitudes and justifications of it, is learned through interactions with one's intimate others (Sutherland 1939). In this aspect, Ratana's unethical conduct in relation to his charge of sexual assault and in handling Sahara's supposed misbehaviour are a product of his interaction with his peers.
Ratana is said to have indications of future deviant behaviour from a young age and have been seen with a "bad crowd". Assuming that the term "bad crowd" refers to a group of individuals engaging in delinquent activities, and based on the Differential Association theory, it can be drawn that Ratana would have been exposed to praises of deviant and violent behaviours by his peers. As a result, he did not learn the consequences of deviant behaviours, or rather, the appropriate ways of expressing and controlling his desires or anger, which led him to be previously charted with disorderly behaviour likely to cause violence. Therefore under (assumable) stress since recently having moved from his usual crowd and neighbourhood, when an annoyance (such as Sahara playing up) occurred, Ratana reacted with his familiar way, violence.
However, to avoid assuming and for the Differential Association theory to provide adequate explanations for his event, the nature of Ratana's crowd and the frequency and duration of his association with them should be clarified.

Additionally, Social Control theory says that one learns not to commit crime by internalising the common values and mores in companionship with intimate others such as families (Hirschi 2002). It has also been argued that strong attachments to delinquent peers appear in juveniles when 'parental controls' are weak (Weatherburn 2001, 4). Therefore, whether Ratana had a weak connection with his parents - described as "good, decent people" by the childhood friend - in comparison to his connection with his peers should be confirmed.


Hawke's Bay Today, 15 March 2010. Ratana Trial: Second jury out for just two hours, Hawke's Bay Today, viewed 16 March 2012.

Masters, C. 15 March 2012. Sahara's murder: What really happened, New Zealand Herald, viewed 16 March 2012

Hirschi, T., (2002), Causes of delinquency, New Brunswick, N.J., Transaction Publishers.

Sutherland, E. (eds.), (1939). Principles of Criminology, Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott.

Weatherburn, D., (2001), 'What causes crime?', Crime and Justice Bulletin, NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, No.54, pp. 1-10

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